Japan is one of the topmost countries in the world for cherry blossom or sakura (as the Japanese call it) viewing. Each spring the cherry trees blossom for a very short time in different parts of Japan. Starting from Japan's southern subtropical islands of Okinawa, where the cherry trees bloom as early as January, the cherry blossom season travels through the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka in early April to end in the northern island of Hokkaido in May.
After days of endless planning and research, I booked my trip to Japan for April, 2018. The main purpose of my trip was to view the cherry trees in full bloom. However, due to very warm temperatures, the cherry blossoms opened 7-10 days earlier this year, and even though I missed seeing them in Tokyo and other places, I saw them in full bloom around Mt. Fuji.
Traveling by bus and train from Kyoto, I arrived at the newly opened Hotel Mystays Fuji Onsen Resort, where I was booked for my stay in Fuji, very late in the night. The hotel boasts an incredible view of Mt. Fuji and is only a 5 minute walk from Fujikyu Highland and very close to Lake Kawaguchiko. As luck would have it, during my stay in Fuji, not only was the weather perfect to see Mt. Fuji but also the sakura was in full bloom. I spent the next couple of days exploring different spots around Mt. Fuji that offered the best sakura viewing. Here are my top five spots:
1. Lake Kawaguchiko
Lake Kawaguchiko is the most popular lake in the Fuji Five Lakes region at the base of Mt. Fuji. It is also the most famous cherry blossom viewing spot in the Mt. Fuji area. Cherry trees have been planted for about 1.2 kms along the northern shores of the lake.
I arrived here very early in the morning to catch the sunrise over Mt. Fuji. However, even though the weather was clear and I could see the mountain, the peak was still enveloped in clouds. I came back here later during the day when the clouds had cleared and the views of the mountain with the sakura were just spectacular.
For more pictures of the lake, check out my post on Cherry Blossoms at Lake Kawaguchiko.
2. Shinnasho River near Oshino Hakkai
Another very famous spot for sakura viewing around Mt. Fuji is the Shinnasho river near Oshino Hakkai that offers stunning views of cherry blossoms, Mt.Fuji and the river. There is also a cute, little bridge 'daimon-bashi', on the river, that offers lovely views of the sakura. This place is hugely popular among photographers. When I came here, the place was flooded with photographers and tourists, all taking pictures of the stunning landscape before them. It is located near Shibokusa Sengen Shrine on ROUTE 717(Prefectural road).
For more pictures of the Shinnasho River, check out my post on Cherry Blossoms/Sakura at Shinnasho River, Fuji, Japan.
3. Oshino Hakkai
Located in the Minamitsuru District of Yamanashi Prefecture, Oshino Hakkai is a small village in a scenic setting with 8 spring water ponds. It is a popular tourist spot for views of Mt. Fuji with cherry blossoms in a traditional Japanese village setting. Food vendors and shops selling souvenirs can also be found here. Unfortunately, the sakura season was over when I visited here but since it was so close to the Shinnasho River, it was worth coming here.
4. Chureito Pagoda
Chureito Pagoda is an iconic pagoda on a hilltop facing Mt. Fuji in Arakurayama Sengen Park, and is reached by climbing 398 steps. It is also one of the most popular places to photograph the cherry trees in Japan with extraordinary views of Mt. Fuji and the pagoda. It is located at 360-1 Arakura, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture.
5. Fujimi Kotoku Koen (Park)
The Fujimi Kotoku Park is a secret spot for viewing cherry trees with Mt. Fuji views in Fujiyoshida. It is off the beaten track and tourists may not know about this place. The park also has a shrine and a recreational walking trail. It is a 15 minutes walk from Yoshiike-onsen-mae Station, and 30 minutes from Shimoyoshida Station. Since the place can be a bit hard to find, you might want to come here with a local tour guide. Also, since the parking space is limited, you might want to walk here from the train station. I drove here with a Japanese photo tour guide who also spoke good English.
For more pictures of the park, check out my post on Fujimi Kotoku Koen, a secret spot for cherry blossoms viewing in Fuji.